Eat That Frog by Brian Tracy: Notes16 min read

Categories BusinessPosted on

Eat That Frog provides 21 techniques and strategies to stop procrastinating and get more done.

At 71 years old, Brian Tracy has built a massive personal brand with over 2.5 million followers across all platforms, mostly by writing dozens of books on personal development.

Eat That Frog is his most popular one, and here are my 3 takeaways:

  • Make use of your unproductive time.
  • Know yourself.
  • Make appointments with yourself.

Lesson 1: Make use of your unproductive time.

The summary said that the average driver spends 500 to 1,000 hours on the road each year. Holy moly!

Even if you’re not driving, chances are you still spend quite some time commuting. The world average commute is 40 minutes (that’s one-way), which means we spend an entire year of our life going back and forth between work and home.

That’s why Brian suggests to make use of this time, for example by listening to audio books, programs or language tapes.

Extend this idea, and you’ll soon find yourself taking notes while waiting in line, reading when you’re waiting for someone you’re meeting and learning Spanish while doing the dishes.

Just like the commute, these little bits of learning add up, and amount to quite a lot.

However, I’d like to take it one step further than Brian and say this: Eliminate recurring unproductive time altogether, wherever possible.

A commute has been shown to be one of the biggest destroyers of our happiness, so if you can, move closer to your work, work from home, or try to get at least one home office day per week.

Lesson 2: Know yourself.

Know thyself. The ancient Greek phrase has been attributed to many sources, but that doesn’t make it any less true.

Nowadays the talk is all about self-awareness, meaning you know what you’re good at, and what you’re not good at.

If you know that you can’t even walk with less than 7 hours of sleep, then make the time to get those 7 hours. You don’t know how much sleep you need? Calculate it.

Related to this is your time of day where you’re most productive. Maybe you are super focused in the morning (your circadian rhythm says yes), but some are night owls.

Extend this idea to all areas of your life, especially the ones that make your body function, like sleep, exercise and diet, and you’ll soon know all the basics you have to take care of to be productive.

Feeling healthy and fit is one of the biggest determinants of your confidence, which will in turn make you more optimistic. The summary says 95% of our emotions result from the way we talk to ourselves, so you better be nice to yourself.

The book even talks about skills and knowing your special talent, which makes you valuable to others, so this idea will help you beyond productivity to lead a successful life.

Lesson 3: Make appointments with yourself.

In the time management section, Brian Tracy recommends blocking your time in chunks and putting it on the calendar.

I can personally vouch for this, as I have talked about scheduling your dream before. For me, I block out time to write and time to coach each day.

Here come’s the important part though: Use this to work on personal goals.

Consider this story from Charlie Munger, long-time business partner and friend of Warren Buffet, the richest man on the planet.

Charlie made $20 as a young lawyer back in the day, and wondered who his most important client was. He decided it was himself, so he decided to “spend” $20 bucks each day and sell himself an hour.

Yes, he missed out on $20, but he now had 60 minutes each day to work on real estate deals, construction projects, i.e. the things that eventually made him a billionaire.

So pick a passion project, mine right now is this very website, sell yourself an hour, and work on it a little bit every day.

“Step by step you get ahead, but not necessarily in fast spurts. But you build discipline by preparing for fast spurts…slug it out one inch at a time, day by day. At the end of the day – if you live long enough – most people get what they deserve.”

My personal take-aways

By now, multiple books have been written on each of the individual ideas, like goal setting, time management, or even further sub-categories like setting priorities (need help with that?). However, back when this book was originally published in 2001, it was a gold mine of valuable tips.

It’s still a great introductory read for newbies and additionally, I found the statistics and studies quoted in it very interesting – these were all new to me.

I’d probably go straight for the book, especially since it’s only around 120 pages.

The Book in Three Sentences

  • Your ‘frog’ is your biggest, most important task
  • If you have two frogs, eat the ‘ugliest’ one first
  • If you have to eat a frog, don’t procrastinate on it

The Five Big Ideas

“The key to reaching high levels of performance and productivity is to develop the lifelong habit of tackling your major task first thing each morning.”

“Think about your goals and review them daily. Every morning when you begin, take action on the most important task you can accomplish to achieve your most important goal at the moment.”

“Think on paper.”

“Always work from a list.”

“Your ability to choose between the important and the unimportant is the key determinant of your success in life and work.”

Eat That Frog Summary

“Your ‘frog’ is your biggest, most important task, the one you are most likely to procrastinate on if you don’t do something about it.”

“The first rule of frog eating is this: If you have to eat two frogs, eat the ugliest one first.”

“Continually remind yourself that one of the most important decisions you make each day is what you will do immediately and what you will do later if you do it at all.”

“The second rule of frog eating is this: If you have to eat a live frog at all, it doesn’t pay to sit and look at it for very long.”

“The key to reaching high levels of performance and productivity is to develop the lifelong habit of tackling your major task first thing each morning.”

1. Set the Table

“Think on paper.”

“One of the very worst uses of time is to do something very well that need not be done at all.”

“Think about your goals and review them daily. Every morning when you begin, take action on the most important task you can accomplish to achieve your most important goal at the moment.”

2. Plan Every Day in Advance

“Always work from a list.”

“Make your list the night before for the workday ahead.”

“You need different lists for different purposes.”

“First, you should create a master list on which you write down everything you can think of that you want to do sometime in the future.”

“Second, you should have a monthly list that you make at the end of the month for the month ahead.”

“Third, you should have a weekly list where you plan your entire week in advance.”

“Finally, you should transfer items from your monthly and weekly lists onto your daily list.”

3. Apply the 80/20 Rule to Everything

“Before you begin work, always ask yourself, ‘Is this task in the top 20 percent of my activities or in the bottom 80 percent?’”

“Resist the temptation to clear up small things first.”

“Your ability to choose between the important and the unimportant is the key determinant of your success in life and work.”

4. Consider the Consequences

“Long-term thinking improves short-term decision making.”

“In your work, having a clear idea of what is really important to you in the long term makes it much easier for you to make better decisions about your priorities in the short term.”

“Before starting on anything, you should always ask yourself, ‘What are the potential consequences of doing or not doing this task?’”

“Future intent influences and often determines present actions.”

“Successful people are those who are willing to delay gratification and make sacrifices in the short term so that they can enjoy far greater rewards in the long term.”

“Motivation requires motive.”

“Thinking continually about the potential consequences of your choices, decisions, and behaviors is one of the very best ways to determine your true priorities in your work and personal life.”

The Law of Forced Efficiency: “There is never enough time to do everything, but there is always enough time to do the most important thing.”

“There will never be enough time to do everything you have to do.”

Ask yourself:

“What are my highest value activities?”

“What can I and only I do that if done well will make a real difference?”

“What is the most valuable use of my time right now?”

“What is my biggest frog of all at this moment?”

“Do first things first and second things not at all.”

5. Practice Creative Procrastination

“The difference between high performers and low performers is largely determined by what they choose to procrastinate on.”

“To set proper priorities, you must set posteriorities as well.”

“A priority is something that you do more of and sooner, while a posteriority is something that you do less of and later, if at all.”

“You can get your time and your life under control only to the degree to which you discontinue lower-value activities.”

“Say no to anything that is not a high-value use of your time and your life.” (Sam: this is similar to Derek Sivers’s, “If it’s not a hell yes, it’s a no.” rule from Anything You Want and Greg McKeown’s philosophy in Essentialism.)

“Your job is to deliberately procrastinate on tasks that are of low value so that you have more time for tasks that can make a big difference in your life and work.”

“Continually review your life and work to find time-consuming tasks and activities that you can abandon. Cut down on television watching and instead spend the time with your family, read, exercise, or do something else that enhances the quality of your life.”

“Look at your work activities and identify the tasks that you could delegate or eliminate to free up more time for the work that really counts.”

“Ask yourself continually, ‘If I were not doing this already, knowing what I now know, would I start doing it again today?’”

6. Use the ABCDE Method Continually

“You start with a list of everything you have to do for the coming day. Think on paper. You then place an A, B, C, D, or E next to each item on your list before you begin the first task.”

“An ‘A’ item is defined as something that is very important, something that you must do. This is a task that will have serious positive or negative consequences if you do it or fail to do it, like visiting a key customer or finishing a report that your boss needs for an upcoming board meeting.”

“A ‘B’ item is defined as a task that you should do.”

“The rule is that you should never do a B task when an A task is left undone.”

“A ‘C’ task is defined as something that would be nice to do but for which there are no consequences at all, whether you do it or not.”

“A ‘D’ task is defined as something you can delegate to someone else.”

“An ‘E’ task is defined as something that you can eliminate altogether, and it won’t make any real difference.”

7. Focus on Key Result Areas

“Your weakest key result area sets the height at which you can use all your other skills and abilities.”

One of the greatest questions you will ever ask yourself: “What one skill, if I developed and did it in an excellent fashion, would have the greatest positive impact on my career?”

8. Apply the Law of Three

“It is the quality of time at work that counts and the quantity of time at home that matters.”

9. Prepare Thoroughly Before You Begin

Get everything you need at hand before you begin.

Brian’s personal rule is “Get it 80 percent right and then correct it later.”

10. Take It One Oil Barrel at a Time

Get your mind off the huge task in front of you and focus on a single action that you can take.

11. Upgrade Your Key Skills

“Continuous learning is the minimum requirement for success in any field.”

12. Leverage Your Special Talents

Continually ask yourself these key questions:

“What am I really good at? What do I enjoy the most about my work?”

“What has been most responsible for my success in the past?”

“If I could do any job at all, what job would it be?”

13. Identify Your Key Constraints

Successful people always begin the analysis of constraints by asking the question, “What is it in me that is holding me back?”

Keep asking, “What sets the speed at which I get the results I want?”

14. Put the Pressure on Yourself

“To reach your full potential, you must form the habit of putting the pressure on yourself and not waiting for someone else to come along and do it for you.”

Work as though you have only one day to get your most important jobs done.

15. Maximize Your Personal Powers

“Whenever you feel overtired and overwhelmed with too much to do and too little time, stop yourself and just say, ‘All I can do is all I can do.’”

“Take one full day off every week. During this day, either Saturday or Sunday, absolutely refuse to read, clear correspondence, catch up on things from the office, or do anything else that taxes your brain.”

Resolve today to improve your levels of health and energy by asking the following questions:

“What am I doing physically that I should do more of? What am I doing that I should do less of?”

“What am I not doing that I should start doing if I want to perform at my best?”

“What am I doing today that affects my health that I should stop doing altogether?”

16. Motivate Yourself into Action

Optimism is the most important quality you can develop for personal and professional success and happiness.

Optimists have four special behaviors, all learned through practice and repetition:

They look for the good in every situation

They always seek the valuable lesson in every setback or difficulty

They always look for the solution to every problem

They think and talk continually about their goals

17. Get Out of the Technological Time Sinks

“For you to stay calm, clearheaded, and capable of performing at your best, you need to detach on a regular basis from the technology and communication devices that can overwhelm you if you are not careful.”

“For you to be able to concentrate on those few things that make the most difference in your business or personal life, you must discipline yourself to treat technology as a servant, not as a master.”

“Resist the urge to start turning on communication devices as soon as you wake up in the morning.”

Keep asking yourself:

“What’s important here?”

“What is important for me to accomplish at work?”

“What is important in my personal life?”

“If I could only do one or two of the activities, which ones would they be?”

“Very few things are so important that they cannot wait.”

18. Slice and Dice the Task

Cut a big task down to size using the “salami slice” method of getting work done.


method, you lay out the task in detail and then resolve to do just one slice of the job for the time being, like eating a roll of salami one slice at a time—or like eating an elephant one bite at a time.”

Another technique you can use to get yourself going is called the “Swiss cheese” method of working.

“You use [the Swiss cheese] technique to get yourself into gear by resolving to punch a hole in the task, like a hole in a block of Swiss cheese. You Swiss cheese a task when you resolve to work for a specific time period on it. This may be as little as five or ten minutes, after which you will stop and do something else.”

19. Create Large Chunks of Time

“Your ability to carve out and use these blocks of high-value, highly productive time is central to your ability to make a significant contribution to your work and to your life.”

“Make work appointments with yourself and then discipline yourself to keep them. Set aside thirty-, sixty- and ninety-minute time segments that you use to work on and complete important tasks.”

20. Develop a Sense of Urgency

Highly-effective people launch quickly and strongly toward their goals and objectives.

“When you work on your most important tasks at a high and continuous level of activity, you can actually enter into an amazing mental state called ‘flow.’”

“One of the ways you can trigger this state of flow is by developing a sense of urgency.”

“With this ingrained sense of urgency, you develop a ‘bias for action.’”

“When you regularly take continuous action toward your most important goals, you activate the Momentum Principle of success. This principle says that although it may take tremendous amounts of energy to overcome inertia and get started initially, it then takes far less energy to keep going.”

“One of the simplest and yet most powerful ways to get yourself started is to repeat the words ‘Do it now! Do it now! Do it now!’ over and over to yourself.”

21. Single Handle Every Task

“Every great achievement of humankind has been preceded by a long period of hard, concentrated work until the job was done.”

“Your ability to select your most important task, to begin it, and then to concentrate on it single-mindedly until it is complete is the key to high levels of performance and personal productivity.”

“Single handling requires that once you begin, you keep working at the task without diversion or distraction until the job is 100 percent complete.”

“You keep urging yourself onward by repeating the words ‘Back to work!’ over and over whenever you are tempted to stop or do something else.”

Recommended Reading

If you like Eat That Frog, you may also enjoy the following books:

Awaken the Giant Within by Anthony Robbins

Anything You Want: 40 Lessons for a New Kind of Entrepreneur by Derek Sivers

Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown

Buy this book

error: Right click disabled